Okay. With agonizing labor you’ve winnowed out a ton of books from your vast library. What on earth are you going to do with them, these boxes and boxes of outgoing volumes? The soul revolts, at paper recycling. No, it is inherently evil to destroy books, we can agree. Let’s think of something better.
Clearly the ideal is to find a home for that book with someone who really wants it. And, if you really want an item, you’re willing to pay cold hard cash for it, right? So: pop over to your nearest used book store, and see if you can sell them. Used bookstores get their stock from people like us. If you can persuade Powells to take everything, you’re home free even if they pay you in store credit. Think of this as exchanging books you don’t want for (fewer, okay? Many, many fewer) books that you do.
But perhaps you have no accommodating used bookstore near you. An allied possibility then is selling books on line. I was able to deaccession thousands of comic books on Ebay. It does take time to list items, and some setup with Paypal and so forth. But the first place I’d go, if I was looking for something difficult like say a hardback 20th century edition leather-bound of KING SOLOMON’S MINES with a tipped-in reproduction of the treasure map, is either Ebay or AbeBooks. (I have one already, thanks, and you will pry it from my cold dead hands.) Someone may be out there right now searching for the book you just dropped into the discard pile. The big used-book selling sites are where they’ll look.
After a tour in the marketplace, however, you will find that some books just don’t move. There are too many Readers Digest Condensed volumes out there. The number of paperback copies of A WRINKLE IN TIME is vast. Even offering them on Ebay at one cent gets you no action. Okay, then it’s time to move on to giving them away. Gillian Polack has posted about her magical basket by the front door, but there are many other ways.
If you have a large and active SF club near you, ask them if they’d like donations to their library. Ask your own public library — they may accept donations to the collection, or simply have a book sale twice a year to help keep the lights on. Conventions have taken to setting up freebie tables, where items just fly out the door. It’s worth asking your local schools, but accept that due to age or educational pressures they may not be able to use your books in their library. The universities who have a research collection of F&SF, the University of Kansas and the University of Iowa, might be interested.
When these avenues have been plumbed, then resort to charities. There’s probably a Goodwill or AmVets in your town. If a charity or hospital you support has a resale store nearby, they may be happy to take your donation — check first. And you even get a tax deduction for it! Online yard sales happen on Facebook or NextDoor — free books always garner interest. Churches or other organizations do book sales as fundraisers. In my area the American Association of University Women has a massive sale every autumn that’s a magnet for book mavens. There are even charities like the Maryland Book Bank, specifically dedicated to accepting books to then be given away to the needy.
And finally, consider the Little Free Library system. The one in the picture stands on a suburban curb in Alexandria Virginia, and was erected by writer Catherine Petrini. There are little boxes like this all over the US, each stocked with free books. You could go to the map on the link and find all the ones in your area. The idea is to give a book and take a book. Children love these places, so cute and friendly. This is the venue, I promise you, for that forlorn Scholastic paperback of A WRINKLE IN TIME. No, you do not have to take a book! But if you do, take fewer than you leave. Remember, the goal is to lessen the load on your bookshelves, not increase it.